Entrepreneurship is both an art and a science. While there is no single recipe for success as a tech entrepreneur, there are many ways to fail. Here are five tips for entrepreneurs for avoiding entrepreneur mistakes:
Seek Out Help
Very few entrepreneurs can do it all. For every Bill Gates, there is a Paul Allen and a Steve Ballmer. For every Steve Jobs, there is a Steve Wozniak. In addition to these co-visionaries, there are teams of professionals to support and assist the tech entrepreneur in building a tech company. Attorneys, accountants, and consultants provide tech entrepreneur resources that can make the difference between a successful business and just another failed startup.
Similarly, investors and venture capitalists can not only provide working capital but can also provide tech entrepreneur resources. Whether those resources come in the form of networking contacts or sales leads, advice based on other tech businesses they have been involved with, or just a friendly ear to listen, tech entrepreneur partners can be an indispensable source of experience for a new business.
Experts can also be a source of tech entrepreneur resources. Conferences, seminars, webinars, and trade shows can be a valuable source for networking and business advice. While tech entrepreneurs are not necessarily known for being humble, most successful tech entrepreneurs know what they do not know and find a way to fill that knowledge gap before it inhibits their business.
Have a Plan
To paraphrase a famous author about military strategy, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” His point was not that plans are pointless. Rather, he was advising that a battle plan must be constantly updated with new strategic decisions as situations arise.
Business plans are similar in the sense that they provide a road map to reach the next goal. But, once that goal is reached, the business plan must be updated to reflect the business’s current condition.
For example, a tech entrepreneur may plan to take on investors to finance a business expansion, then use the profits from the business expansion to buy out the investors and return to a sole proprietorship. However, once the business has expanded, the tech entrepreneur may find that the initial plan is no longer feasible because the expanded business requires more employees and more working capital than the entrepreneur can handle without investors. In this example, the tech entrepreneur must update the business plan to reflect the new condition of the business.
Polish Your Presentation
While it would be glib to reduce every tech entrepreneur to a salesperson, the modern entrepreneur must be able to communicate his or her vision effectively. Venture capitalists and investors have many, many businesses competing for their investment. Having a clear presentation can make the difference between closing the deal and foundering. In fact, communications researchers have found that presentation style (55% non-verbal cues and 38% voice) may be more influential in creating an effective presentation than the subject matter (7%). Again, coaches and consultants can be valuable tech entrepreneur resources in developing a presentation style that works for you.
As a tech entrepreneur, your business is like your baby. However, micromanaging a business is inefficient and can lead to resentment among partners and employees. Learning to delegate authority spreads the responsibility for success throughout the business. Partners and employees will be happier having a role in the business’s success and you will have more time to focus on entrepreneurship – building the business and its product and service offerings – rather than being distracted by the day to day operations.
One of the common mistakes that tech entrepreneurs make is that they are so enamored with the technology they have developed, that they forget to make money. This is not to say that tech entrepreneurs need to be greedy. To the contrary, some of the coolest technologies has been dedicated to social justice, corporate governance, and environmental improvement. Moreover, many tech businesses contribute financially to worthy causes. However, as a tech entrepreneur, you are running a business that your customers, employees, and partners are counting on. No tech entrepreneur wants to be in the unenviable position of having to lay off employees.
In sum, there are many tech entrepreneur resources, including business partners, consultants, and employees, who can help tech entrepreneurs avoid common mistakes.